Through a series of events that are keeping his usual superiors out of the shop, my sailor has found himself as acting LPO for the week. LPO stands for leading petty officer--the person in charge of everyone else, and usually the highest ranking person in the shop. Jason is a second class petty officer, as are a number of other people in his shop, but the powers that be decided to give him the "big man" honors in their absence this week.
I'm pretty proud that they picked him to keep things afloat. I've always told him that he excels at this Navy thing and that he is leadership material, so it's nice for him to now be getting that same vote of confidence from his superiors. I'm sure he appreciates my praise, too, but it means more when it's coming from the guys who sign your evals. Unfortunately, Jason sees it a little differently. He thinks that they picked him because he was the least of the evils--like he won the "Least Likely to Drown in His Own Saliva" contest. While I choose to look at the situation in a positive light, Jason's stress level keeps his mind in the basement.
He has been under a lot of stress lately between work and school, and he wasn't sure how taking a leadership role would go. If I'm being honest, he believed wholeheartedly that it would be a disaster.
The thing is, he's relatively new to both his command and his particular job, having just come back into the Navy last year, so he's still learning the ropes. Although he's the best technician in his shop by far, he says he has a lot to learn about procedure, which puts him at a disadvantage leadership-wise because he's learning things by trial and error.
As a second class petty officer, he's expected to know certain things simply because of the amount of time he's been in the Navy. That's assuming, of course, that he's had the same job the whole time. Not so.
He started out training to be a nuclear power electrician's mate during his first enlistment, switched to working on fighter jets (F-14 Tomcats and F/A-18 Superhornets) part of the way through, got out and spent two years as a civilian, and now in this enlistment he works on the jets' electronic systems--radars, radios, whatever.
So he knows a lot of Navy things, but he doesn't know every single little thing about being an "I"-level aviation technician. Unfortunately for Jason, when a chief is chewing him out for being unsure about a procedure, the chief isn't interested in hearing about how he just started being LPO yesterday and has only been "I"-level for a year. Most guys work in their rate for years before becoming LPO, and some never advance that far. Jason skipped the frying pan and got tossed straight into the fire.
Morale is an issue in any workplace, and the Navy is no different. Jason's command is notorious for its lackluster morale, so he was worried that no one would be motivated enough to put in an effort for him, especially because he doesn't outrank most of his coworkers. But, things are going well enough so far. Nearly everyone in the shop put in a good effort yesterday, and today was OK, too.
Except for the part where a chief didn't understand what a bag is, nor why an aviation shop is not equipped with sewing equipment. Bag (noun): a portable container for carrying articles. Yes, really. That happened.
To give Jason a better chance at keeping the troops happy, I sent him off this morning with a boatload of cookies. No sailor is immune to food bribery!
At the very least, it gave Jason a sweet escape in between headaches.